Why Gabriel Landeskog Should Keep The Captaincy
First let’s go back to when Gabriel Landeskog was named the youngest captain in NHL history. Then-coach Joe Sacco named Landeskog captain during some of the team’s darkest days. For team rebuilding, it made sense to name such a young player captain because he had the potential to be the face of the team for years to come.
But looking purely at skill and age, you would think that would have been Matt Duchene who was a year older and a more prolific scorer. However, Duchene and Sacco disagreements have been well documented. And Sacco, a defense-first head coach, was not going to name a young and somewhat defensively inept Matt Duchene captain.
So Gabriel Landeskog got the captaincy, and I don’t mean to understate his achievements with it. He has hit the 50-point and 20-goal mark in every year except the lockout shortened season. He helped redefine the power play with his presence on the goal line close to the net, always there to walk out in front for a stuff in or a rebound. And he can be a very physical player who can skate well and deliver crushing blows. Perhaps most speaking to his on ice play, he has the guts and willingness to take the puck to the front of the net-often knowing he’s about to be crushed-to make a play.
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Statistically speaking Gabriel Landeskog has produced enough to earn the captaincy. And off the ice he seems to be a great captain. Jarome Iginla, longtime captain of the Calgary Flames spoke last March on Landeskog’s captaincy:
"He does a great job because he knows what’s going on with all the guys, and he and Patty have a good relationship. They go in and they talk things out. I’m impressed. I was older when I was captain and there still was pressure and at times I felt it, but you don’t notice it with him."
And that obviously says a lot about Landy as a person, that he is respected by one of the most respected leaders (Jarome Iginla) in the game. In addition Gabriel Landeskog put together some great preseason bonding experiences in Vail Colorado. Many of the Av’s veterans praised the experience and the idea that Landy had put together there.
However, there are other reasons, less positive reasons, he still possesses the captaincy. First of all, stripping any captain of a “C” leads to locker room troubles. For example, the Sharks went one season without a captain after stripping Joe Thorton of it. That was a disaster, resulting in more turmoil than if they’d just given the captaincy to another player.
Basically, I’m saying even if in theory we’ve all made our minds up collectively as Avs Nation by the end of the post that Gabriel Landeskog doesn’t deserve the captaincy, that doesn’t mean we can take it away. Because once the “C” is taken away the locker room will never function again with that player in it. Even if Landeskog were to leave the team changing the captain is sure to have some negative effects on the locker room for a period of time.
Next: Why The Avalanche Could Use A New Captain